Managing water scarcity in European and Chinese cropping systems

27th – 29th October 2019; Sitges, Spain.


Prof. Ian Dodd (Lancaster University) gave a talk on ‘The ups and downs of root-shoot communication’ at the International Conference on Integrative Plant Physiology held in Sitges, Spain 27-29 October 2019.

He highlighted the importance of understanding hormone biology and improving irrigation and soil management to enhance crop yields in dry, compact soils. This was linked to future work to be undertaken in the SHui project.

The conference brought together specialists in plant ecology, physiology, biochemistry and molecular biology to share and discuss recent advances in plant biology.

SHui partner BOKU disseminated their research on ‘no-till’ – direct drilling to conserve our soils on Austrian national news, ORF.

A 25-year partnership between BOKU and an agricultural school in Lower Austria has allowed the assessment of different tillage practices in long term experiments. Under the agriculture section, the news piece highlights the need for soil protection in arable land and notes benefits and disadvantages to the ‘no-till’ – direct drilling practice. Direct drilling without tilling has been found to achieve the same economic benefit as conventional techniques, resulting in slightly less yield, but also less fuel and fewer man-hours whilst also reducing soil erosion.

Link to news article:



From October 8th to 11th, the SHui project organized a workshop on Catchment Hydrological Modelling, at the Jiusan Soil Conservation Experimental Station run by the Beijing Normal University at the Heilongjiang Province in Northern China.

During this meeting all the SHui participants involved on this topic presented the description of their experimental catchments and major results obtained from them, and planned the intermodel comparison across the different catchments as an integral part of SHui. This analysis will provide insight into the different models’ strengths and limitations and it will pave the way for selecting the most appropriate way of up-scaling SHui results.

This workshop included a tour of the facilities of the Jiusan station as well as a field visit to the experimental catchments located in one of largest cropping areas in China. During this workshop the participants exchanged ideas to deepen collaboration within the SHui project and beyond.


On October 11th, BFU organised a seminar with SHui project researchers on soil management and its relationship with agricultural production at Beijing Forestry University in China.

Work in the Shui project is trying to understand how soil redistribution by tillage and erosion affects the availability of water to crops and their yield, and particularly whether yields are more sensitive in drought years.

Dr. Jose A. Gomez from CSIC, the project leader, introduced SHui to BFU researchers and students and presented his long-term olive orchard research. Results showed temporary cover crops, from Autumn to early Spring, can reduce erosion by one order of magnitude in olive orchards as compared to bare soil management, however they need to be carefully managed to prevent competition for soil water.

Prof. John Quinton (Lancaster University) delivered his research on soil erosion and its implications on agricultural production. Work with the Aquacrop model showed a significant simulated impact on water availability and yield following soil redistribution by tillage.

Prof. Peter Strauss (Federal Agency for Water Management Austria) shared his research on the influence of rainfall characteristics on soil erosion through his presentation titled ‘Climate change effects on rain erosivity, soil erosion and runoff flowpaths’.

Students also presented their current research and received helpful feedback.

This seminar showed students the methodological and conceptual frontiers in the study of soil management. Students were lead to think about the multidimensional implication of this area in our current world.

This seminar provided early-career researchers training and facilitated knowledge exchange among partners within the SHui project and beyond.


October 7-11, 2019

SHui partners from CSIC participated in the ISHS International symposium on precision management of orchards and vineyards, Palermo (Italy).

J.M. Ramírez-Cuesta, I. Buesa, M.A. Moreno, R. Ballesteros, D. Hernández and D.S. Intrigliolo presented their work titiled ‘Evaluating the effects of different management practices on vineyard evapotranspiration using remote sensing-based energy balance models’.

Water 201911(9), 1918;

Partner Publication (University of Cordoba):
Margarita Garcia-Vila 1,Rodrigo Morillo-Velarde 2 and Elias Fereres 1,3
1 Agronomy Department, University of Cordoba, 14007 Córdoba, Spain
2 Research Association for Sugar Beet Crop Improvement, 47012 Valladolid, Spain
3 Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, CSIC, 14004 Córdoba, Spain


Process-based crop models such as AquaCrop are useful for a variety of applications but must be accurately calibrated and validated. Sugar beet is an important crop that is grown in regions under water scarcity. The discrepancies and uncertainty in past published calibrations, together with important modifications in the program, deemed it necessary to conduct a study aimed at the calibration of AquaCrop (version 6.1) using the results of a single deficit irrigation experiment. The model was validated with additional data from eight farms differing in location, years, varieties, sowing dates, and irrigation. The overall performance of AquaCrop for simulating canopy cover, biomass, and final yield was accurate (RMSE = 11.39%, 2.10 t ha−1, and 0.85 t ha−1, respectively). Once the model was properly calibrated and validated, a scenario analysis was carried out to assess the crop response in terms of yield and water productivity to different irrigation water allocations in the two main production areas of sugar beet in Spain (spring and autumn sowing). The results highlighted the potential of the model by showing the important impact of irrigation water allocation and sowing time on sugar beet production and its irrigation water productivity.
September 12-13, 2019

SHui partners from CSIC participated in the International mid-term Conference 2019 Italian Association of Agricultural Engineering in Matera (Italy).

A poster titled ‘Retrieving reference evapotranspiration for irrigation scheduling: forecast or past weather data?’ by D. Vanella, D.S. Intrigliolo, S. Consoli, R.C. Dumitrache, E. Matescu, J. Deelstra, G. Longo, S. Barbagallo, G. Lizzio and J.M. Ramírez-Cuesta was presented.

15-19 July

The conference was organized by BOKU partners within SHui (Prof. Dr. Andreas Klik) and provided an opportunity to exchange ideas on SWAT implementation within SHui platform. The aim of the modelling team of CVUT is to use the model for larger scale spatially distributed soil water content estimation, to be able to predict water availability for agricultural use, but also to test the model applicability in smaller scales. SWAT (as an open source tool) is one of the most used models for hydrological balances worldwide, but applied generally in large spatial scales (1000+km2 basins). The potentials of the model to be applied in 1+km2 basins is tested within SHui by Nina Noreika.





Talk at Lanzhou University

John Quinton – Lancaster University

On 21st June 2019, Prof John Quinton gave an invited talk at Lanzhou University to almost 300 scientists. John’s talk explored how tillage and erosion change soil properties, particularly soil depth, and how this impacts on crop yields across agricultural landscapes. He demonstrated the importance of changes in water availability and linked this to future work to be undertaken in the SHui project.











                                                                                                                                                 Soil erosion near Xining, China.



Agricultural Research Organization (ARO), Israel

Alon Ben-Gal

This application has been designed to calculate the Analytical Salt-Water (ANSWER) model [Shani et al., 2007, 2009]. By choosing a crop and soil type, the application will calculate the relative yield for any combination of irrigation water salinity and amount. Adding the relevant economic parameters (such as water price, different costs, etc.) the application can also calculate the expected profit.

Link to Digital Site: